Saturday, May 24, 2008

ASL class popular at Lubbock high school

Mike Collier teaches his sign language class.

Mike Collier, the American Sign Language teacher at Frenship High School in Lubbock, Texas, says being deaf has been a blessing. He was working as an 18-year-old machinist when a work-related accident left him deaf.

"I am deaf with a capital D," Collier says. "That means I embrace the deaf world as my world. My wife and I are deaf, and all our interaction with the world is pretty much through our eyes. Becoming deaf was a blessing in disguise for me - not at the time, but in the years to come."

He now introduces high school students to the world of deaf culture through his sign language class. The course started during the 07-08 school year and is among the fastest-growing programs there, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

For most students in the Frenship sign language classes, Collier said he is their first encounter with a deaf person. Collier got the job at Frenship after he asked about helping the school set up sign language classes, and the school evaluated the idea and found students were interested in sign language classes.

Students receive foreign language credit by taking the class. Students say the class is teaching them about the deaf community as well, because Collier requires students to attend deaf events to practice their skills and to learn about deaf culture.